Reproductive conflict delays the recovery of an endangered social species
Article first published online: 22 SEP 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society
Journal of Animal Ecology
Volume 78, Issue 1, pages 219–225, January 2009
How to Cite
López-Sepulcre, A., Norris, K. and Kokko, H. (2009), Reproductive conflict delays the recovery of an endangered social species. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78: 219–225. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01475.x
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 22 SEP 2008
- Received 2 April 2008; accepted 12 August 2008; Handling Associate Editor: Bill Gurney
- interference behaviour;
- IUCN Red List;
- population regulation;
- population viability;
- territorial conflict
- 1Evolutionary theory predicts that individuals, in order to increase their relative fitness, can evolve behaviours that are detrimental for the group or population. This mismatch is particularly visible in social organisms. Despite its potential to affect the population dynamics of social animals, this principle has not yet been applied to real-life conservation.
- 2Social group structure has been argued to stabilize population dynamics due to the buffering effects of nonreproducing subordinates. However, competition for breeding positions in such species can also interfere with the reproduction of breeding pairs.
- 3Seychelles magpie robins, Copsychus sechellarum, live in social groups where subordinate individuals do not breed. Analysis of long-term individual-based data and short-term behavioural observations show that subordinates increase the territorial takeover frequency of established breeders. Such takeovers delay offspring production and decrease territory productivity.
- 4Individual-based simulations of the Seychelles magpie robin population parameterized with the long-term data show that this process has significantly postponed the recovery of the species from the Critically Endangered status.
- 5Social conflict thus can extend the period of high extinction risk, which we show to have population consequences that should be taken into account in management programmes. This is the first quantitative assessment of the effects of social conflict on conservation.